Parenting Teens During COVID-19

Author:  Jenna DeRosa, LPCC 

verified by Psychology Today

Amidst all of the emotions and panic that each individual is dealing with, one of the largest transitions is happening day to day in each person’s house. Whether that is the parent who is now transitioning to working from home, the parents or child who has gotten laid off from their job, the child who is used to being at preschool all day, and the teenager who is missing out on major high school experiences.

Trying to balance your own anxiety plus the anxiety of each person in the house can be a challenging and uncertain time. This can lead parents to wonder how to prioritize your teen’s needs during this time. While continuing to work with teens, these are the major needs and issues that have come to my attention during this time that can help parents to prioritize:

Routines

Continuing with a daily routine is one thing that I have been working on with ALL clients, but teenagers specifically have difficulty with it. With school being online and not a strict time that it starts, teens staying up late face timing friends, and laying in bed in their room all day, it has caused disruption to sleep schedules and self-care. The main points to make sure that you can assist your teen in maintaining their schedule is emphasizing and assisting in consistency. What would this look like:

  • Waking up around the same time Monday-Friday & doing a morning routine (Even though there isn’t school on Monday’s)
  • Eating breakfast & lunch
  • Logging into school at the same time & sitting in an area in the house where they can work on their school work
  • Going outside and moving their body
  • Eating dinner
  • Socializing with friends
  • Getting ready for bed and going to sleep around the same time
    • Also making sure their bed is only for sleeping (naps and bedtime)

This rough schedule can help your teenager to be more productive and have a smoother adjustment to this ‘stay at home’ environment. This can help to balance socializing with friends while still maintaining self-care and completing schoolwork (since this is not summer vacation, yet).

Empathizing

            During this tragic time, people have lost jobs and people have lost loved ones. It can be hard to empathize with your teen during this time. But teenagers are missing out on major milestones that they have been looking forward to during their whole high school career. Prom, graduation and senior sports are a few things that have been canceled during this time.

While we all know that this pain and sadness will not last forever, this is a crucial and important milestone for your teenager and it can be hard to empathize with the sadness and stress that people are experiencing every minute of the day. While yes, there are worse things happening in the world and lives & jobs are being lost, that does not mean that this ‘loss’ for your teenager isn’t equally as important. Make sure during this time to empathize with your teen and think back to when you were their age and how you would feel during this time. These events are more than just ‘things’ they are experiences.

Alone time

            Making sure to allow alone time for your teen is crucial during this time. Not just for them but everyone in the house should prioritize time for themselves. Parents and teenagers are typically not used to seeing each other all day every day because the teenager was at school and the parents were either at home or at work.

This transition of being home all day every day around family can be overwhelming for all parties. Making sure to let your teen have alone time in their room or on walks is crucial in order for them to maintain anxiety and process emotions and feelings. One aspect to make sure your teenager has space in their room that isn’t their bed is crucial. Whether that’s

  • A spot with a comfy chair in the corner or
  • A spot on the ground with blankets and pillows

Creating a relaxing and private environment that isn’t their bed can help to maintain their routine but allow for alone time and processing as well.

Allowing your teen to go on walks and get exercise by

themselves is crucial, and while everyone in the household should be doing this during their day, your teen may not want it to be a family outing and may want to use this time to be by themselves.

Social Connection

            The loss of social connection has been extremely difficult among most teenagers. Again, they are used to seeing each other all day every day in school and even on the weekends. Allowing your teenagers to have extra time on facetime, phone calls, or Snapchat is beneficial during this time to help ease the ‘loss.’

While making sure each teenager is still completing schoolwork, being safe, and respecting the rules of the household, extra time communicating with their friends on different social media channels can help to ease any anxiety and depression that teenagers have been struggling with.

Resources

Below is a list of apps that I have been giving to teenagers to use during this time of increasing anxiety and depression

  • Meditation apps:
    • Calm
    • Headspace
    • Insight Timer
    • Shine
  • Youper
  • Fluidity
  • Fluid
  • Long walks

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